Beaches and Mountains: Le Meridien Khao Lak

Trip Report Index


We had booked a car transfer from the Westin to Le Meridien for 2PM at a cost of 2,700THB (about $87USD). They informed us the ride would take about two hours, which it did, so we arrived at Le Meridien at around 4PM.


Hotel entrance


Car transfer


Hotel entrance

We were welcomed in the open air lobby and invited to sit down in the lobby lounge, where we were offered welcome drinks, cold towels, and flower wristbands.


Lobby


Lobby lounge

The lobby boasted views of the rest of the resort, overlooking the pools and then the beach in the distance.


View of resort from lobby


Welcome drinks and towels

One of the reasons we had booked Le Meridien Khao Lak is because they have among the most affordable villas of any hotel I’ve seen. While they have “normal” rooms and suites, they also have reasonably priced villas. We had booked a villa for 6,300THB all-in (about $203USD) per night for four nights, which included two spa treatments.

After about a 20 minute check-in process we were driven to our villa in a golf cart. We were pretty disappointed when we got to the villa, and it’s probably entirely my fault for doing an awful job managing my expectations. When I think “villa” in the context of a resort, I think of a room with a private backyard and/or plunge pool, or at least something a bit more secluded.

While the room itself was quite nice, this was the extent of our backyard:


Backyard

Again, I guess I shouldn’t have made any assumptions, though I couldn’t figure out why I would pay a premium for a room like this. The room wasn’t that big, and if I had booked a standard room as a Platinum member I would have been upgraded to a suite or possibly this exact villa (according to the host that brought us to our room). At the same time, the hotel doesn’t upgrade Platinum members to a higher level villa, which in fairness is completely within the terms and conditions of the Starwood program. So I just fail to see what makes this sort of villa different than any other type of room.

So we expressed our disappointed since we legitimately thought we booked a villa with a pool and/or private backyard, though the host just stood there and didn’t say anything. The host had mentioned the hotel was less than half full so we asked how much it would cost to upgrade. Eventually we agreed on the price of 1,000THB extra per night (about $33USD) for a pool villa. In the end I guess it all worked out, though I was a bit disappointed in the way they handled the situation based on our interactions.

The host suggested we go to the pool as they prepare the other villa, and in about an hour he found us to bring us to the new villa.

While the villa itself was the same size, the backyard was much nicer and well worth the premium.

The villa features a main room with king sized bed, couch, and desk.


Villa


Villa


Couch

On the table was a welcome gift consisting of fruit and pralines.


Platinum welcome gift

Then the bathroom features a sink on each side, a bathtub in the middle, and both an indoor and outdoor shower.


Bathroom


Toilet


Indoor shower


Outdoor shower

This was my first time staying in a villa. The backyard was beautiful with a plunge pool, day bed, and a couple of lounge chairs. In the end we didn’t get a whole lot out of it since I far preferred the main resort pool, though it was still nice to feel like you have some private space.


Private pool


Private pool


Outdoor day bed

The resort itself has three pools. There’s the main pool near the beach, a quieter spa pool, and then a “river” pool. I spent most of my time at the main pool.


Main pool


“River” pool


Spa pool

And unlike the Westin Siray Bay, Le Meridien has a very nice beach with white sand and (mostly) turquoise water.


Beach


Beach


Beach

While I wasn’t a huge fan of the spa at the Westin, Le Meridien has a very nice spa. The prices were more reasonable for the treatments (around $60USD for an hour-long massage) and the treatment rooms were nicer and staff seemed much more genuine.


Spa entrance


Spa welcome area


Spa treatment room

The hotel also has a well equipped gym and also some ping pong tables. Lucky loves ping pong!


Gym

As a Platinum member daily buffet breakfast was included which was served daily from 6:30AM to 10:30AM. The spread was even better than at the Westin, featuring everything you could possibly want and then some.


Buffet restaurant


Breakfast buffet


Breakfast buffet


Breakfast buffet


Made-to-order anything

Every night the hotel had a different themed dinner buffet in one of the restaurants. One night it was at Bangsak Grill, which is the hotel’s Italian restaurant. When the host had brought us to our villa the first day he told us Bangsak Grill was rated one of the best Italian restaurants in Thailand, and I had a hard time not rolling my eyes. I was wrong. It was literally the best Italian food I’ve had outside of Italy. The buffet featured salad, pizza, pasta, and dessert, and was under $20USD per person.


Bangsak Grill


View from Bangsak Grill


Salad buffet


Pizza


Dessert

The food was so good that we came back the last night of our stay even when they didn’t have a buffet. My friend had the pizza while I had the meat lasagna, both of which were excellent.


Pizza


Lasagna


Dessert

Another night they had a Thai buffet at Baan Thai restaurant. I really like Thai food (and I don’t just mean “fake” Thai food in the US, but also real Thai food in Thailand after many visits), but I wasn’t a huge fan of the buffet.


Baan Thai Restaurant


Baan Thai Restaurant


Buffet


Buffet


Buffet

As a Platinum member we also received a couple of drink vouchers for the bar on the beach, Bamboo Bar. One afternoon we had some drinks and a chicken noodle dish.


Pina Colada at Bamboo Grill


Bamboo Bar dining

The hotel is located about 10 minutes by taxi from Khao Lak town. They have a bit of a “taxi mafia” going on, so expect to pay as much for the ride as you would in a Tokyo cab based on the distance.

While I usually love small towns in Asia, Khao Lak town wasn’t especially interesting. It featured little more than cheesy tourist shops without all that much substance.


Khao Lak town

On the whole the hotel was nice. While villas are nice in theory, I can’t say we made all that much use of it. If I returned I would probably just book a standard room and hope for a suite upgrade, since it suits my needs just as well. I assume a villa would be a lot more interesting for a family traveling with kids since you can just hang out in the “backyard.”

The service was pretty good at the resort on the whole. It seemed much more genuine than at the Westin Siray Bay.

It’s also worth noting that this place has a lot of “nature,” from massive lizards to crabs to the occasional snake. Given the location of the hotel this shouldn’t surprise anyone, though just keep that in mind, as you’ll want to leave your suitcase zipped. The lizards even have ways of crawling through the cracks in the windows.

Anyway, on the whole it was a nice hotel. I’m happy to have visited the hotel and see all there is(n’t) to see in Khao Lak town, and I enjoyed the resort as such. For me it’s one of those “been there, done that, what’s next?” places. But that’s not to say you shouldn’t go.

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Comments

  1. Seems like you’re hitting up the “little” places in Asia, having been there so much.

    What’s the biggest gap in your Asia map now that India is crossed off? Been to Cambodia yet? Gotta see Angkor Wat I hear

  2. @ James — My next destinations will likely be Taipei, Cambodia, and Laos, which are the most “major” places I’ve yet to visit.

  3. Nice review. I’ve always been interested in this property because Khao Lak is the departure point I’ve always used for diving the Similan Islands. The other times I’ve been there we stayed at the JW Marriott, which as you noted is a good couple of hour drive from Khao Lak.

    -David

  4. Lucky, Great couple of reviews. I spend a lot of time in similar asian resorts and love seeing some of the alternatives. thanks

  5. @ Andy — I’m just more of a pool than beach person. Not a huge fan of sand or swimming in ocean water. That being said, I did spend some time at the beach.

  6. Just looked at the trip report index and realized you are going to Munich! My absolute favorite foreign city — can’t wait.

  7. @ Other Ben — I’m with you, it’s probably my favorite as well, if you include the surrounding areas.

  8. Coins,
    Thanks for labeling the beach picture ‘beach’, and the pizza picture ‘pizza’. I never would have known!

  9. Thanks for the reviews (just read both) but I don’t understand the whole “book a mercedes for $65” thing. What has always been great about Asia to me is being able to get off a plane in a place like Phuket and haggling with one of the taxi vendors to take you wherever you need to go for way cheaper than this…isn’t that part of the journey half the fun? Same thing with these expensive massages…I don’t think I could ever rationalize spending $60+ (or in your case, sounds like $100+) an hour knowing that you can get a massage that’s just as good for $10/hour max somewhere off the resort.

  10. Those photos look amazing. I so want to go to this hotel now. Judging by the photos, I could just eat, drink, go to the beach, and hang out in the room and be thrilled.

  11. It looks a great place for holidays and summer vacations and it seems affordable. The Thai food and the beach, it looks amazing! Can’t wait to visit that hotel!

  12. Interesting your experience with the villas. When we went there (as a PLT), we paid like 8k points for an upgrade to the villa, then they upgraded me as a platinum to a ocean-front villa. We really enjoyed being on the water with tons of outside space, pool and lounges facing the water. We thought this was well worth it.

    As for the Italian place, I agree, I wasn’t expecting much, but ended up LOVING it. Also, When we were there, they had a private buffet for PLT members (I think you could pay like $50pp if you aren’t PLT) at the Thai restaurant on the pond that was out of this world. I think it was even as good as the Penn BKK breakfast buffet!

  13. Lucky, I absolutely loved the Le Meridien Khao Lak. We got upgraded as Plat at the time (2008) to one of the standard villas and it was fine for us. Personal service by our own attendant bringing juice and coffee in the morning, with breakfast if we wanted in the villa. Loved the outdoor shower!

    In addition to the unexpected wildlife, do they still have the small zoo on-premises? And did you get to the fish shack up the beach to the left a few hundred meters? Wonderful inexpensive dining.

    Had a similarly good time at the HKT Thai/*A lounge on the flight back to BKK, though didn’t have the old-school 747, just an older-school A300, in Y. Overall MrsXS and I loved our visit to the Khao Lak area, and in fact had it on our short-list of expat destinations, till we ended up deciding on the Uruguayan costa de oro instead.

  14. Pool villas, esp the kind with butlers typically start at 500 US a night. This seems like a bargain. Of course, the pool vila, doesn’t look out of this world fab, but still.

  15. We really enjoyed our stay at the Le Meridien Khao Lak a few years ago. While we didn’t splurge a villa, we found our suite (for part of the stay) and room to be nice and very relaxing.

    We ended up spending a few extra days here due to the shutdown of the BKK airport by protesters. The front desk was very helpful in getting us rebooked on another flight as well as extending a reduced rate and free internet for the extra days we stayed. Not a bad place to be “stuck”, sipping on Singha beer on the beach! 🙂

    Also a great base for staying before/after a Similan Island liveaboard trip which is what we did. It was really nice to come back to the Le Meridien and have a real shower after 3 days at sea.

  16. My partner and I just booked a trip to this… Looks like amazing. Can’t wait till we go. Still slightly concerned about the weather though. Thanks for the informative report!

  17. Great review, Ben. Thanks. I am thinking of visiting here and also Le Meridien Koh Samui too. This has helped me decide to stay at LM in both places actually. Cheers, DG.

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